The scent of ocean air mixed with fresh asphalt woke me from my slumber. The sound of construction filled my ears as I opened my eyes. From within the car, industrious workers and shipyards whizzed past me. The sea disappeared behind us as we turned down an alley of an out-of-nowhere town. “What a strange first impression of Málaga,” I thought to myself. “Let’s see what this port city has to offer…”
We parked on an inconspicuous road in the middle of the town and ate lunch at La Fabrica Brewery. My friends and I checked into our Airbnb, dropped off our luggage, and explored the neighborhood. We particularly appreciated the Plaza de la Constitución, which introduces the Historic Quarter of Málaga. The intricate tiling and stately fountain complements the 17th-century architecture that frames the square. The rest of the afternoon was devoted to navigating the busy streets on foot.
We spent the next day touring Catedral de Málaga (the cathedral), Alcazaba de Málaga (the fortress), and Castillo de Gibralfaro (the castle). Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga was as expected: colossal and breathtakingly ornate. Fully experiencing its impressiveness requires at least a few hours. Don’t rush through the exhibits or the historical lessons! Our leisurely walk allowed my friends and I to gather our energy for the hike to the fortress and the castle. The trek can be challenging, but it is certainly rewarding. Once at the summit, it is hard to dismiss the palatial verandas as Gibralfaro proudly looks on.
The hike down the hills that Alcazaba and Gibralfaro are perched upon worked up our appetite. El Patio Bodega and El Pimpi are two restaurants that I always recommend to anyone planning to visit Málaga. El Patio is known for its easygoing atmosphere and seemingly endless options for paella. El Pimpi is a popular spot among the locals. Their tapas, wine, and desserts make the establishment a pillar of authenticity. Pull up a seat to one of their barrel tables on the sidewalk and watch the lively nightlife of Málaga unfold.
We saved the best for last on our last day: Hammam Al Ándalus (the Arabic bathhouse). The girls and I treated ourselves to a relaxing morning soak and individualized massages. Although we were not permitted to photograph the interior, the Arabic architectural features had us speechless. “I have never been so at peace in my life” are the perfect words to describe the experience. The environment is meditative, clarifying, and humbling. I felt honored to have walked through Hammam Al Ándalus’ doors. We left Málaga feeling rejuvenated and hopeful for the final chapter of our road trip: Seville, Spain…